The inaugural Rootfire at the Beach was one of the summer’s hottest concerts. Taking place along Avila Beach, California, the mini festival featured the likes of Collie Buddz, Stephen Marley and Tribal Seeds.
Talking to Rootfire founder Seth Herman before the event, he stressed the importance of setting and healthy living as inspirations for the festival. The beach-side venue along the central coast delivered on that front but it was the artists who took center stage.
Date: Sunday, August 2nd, 2015
Line Up: Collie Buddz, Stephen Marley, Tribal Seeds, The Movement, Shwayze & Expanders Sound System
Venue: Avila Beach Resort. Avila Beach, CA
Recap: Rootfire at the Beach 2015
Unlike many other festivals, the August 2nd extravaganza had a DJ spinning vinyls all throughout. Expanders Sound System, the brainchild of roots-reggae outfit The Expanders, put on vintage reggae from a variety of decades. While The Expanders’ lead singer Devin Morrison handled DJ duties, fellow band member and bassist Chiquis Lozoya filled me in on why this performance was so important to them.
“This is something we have been dreaming about for a long time. We don’t want to listen to some shitty CD playlist in between sets. Devin is up there playing tunes we love. His collection of reggae music goes really far back.”
This photo was taken right before The Movement’s 1 pm set. The group has proved that east coast reggae is alive and well, even in California. It’s no surprise that The Movement participated in the festival, their single “Rescue” was premiered on Rootfire’s website in April. The Movement are currently in the midst of working on their next release and we’ll have more info regarding that as soon as it’s made available to us.
By the time Collie Buddz hit the stage, the festival was in full swing. Collie commanded the crowd of over 3,000 attendees; his steady stage presence creating more than a few photo opportunities. Currently on his Blue Dreamz tour, Collie Buddz came down to Avila Beach to entertain. At one point he spotted a fan holding up a flag from Bermuda, the small British territory that Buddz grew up in. He brought the woman up to the stage for a small portion of his nearly one hour set.
Sticking with the theme of roots reggae, Collie Buddz covered Peter Tosh’s “Legalize It” but got the crowd going with hits of his own. The artist behind well known tracks “Blind to You” and “Come Around” is touring in support of his Blue Dreamz EP. After making several appearances at more than a few high profile events it is safe to say that the Bermudan born hit-maker is becoming a fixture at West Coast reggae festivals.
Stephen “Ragga” Marley was the second to last performer, taking the stage right before sunset. This is an exciting time for Stephen as his album Revelation Part Two: The Fruit of Life is due out sometime soon. The upcoming record is a follow up to 2011’s Revelation Part One: The Root of Life, a record that ended up winning a Grammy for Best Reggae Album.
The set-list of Stephen Marley included a few songs from the extensive catalog of hits from his father. The performance was truly a family affair, with younger Marley members making guest appearances on stage. Pictured above is Jeremiah Marley, son of Stephen and grandson of Bob. While Stephen has enough hits of his own to keep the party going, taking time to pay tribute to his father make his live performances a must-see.
Shredding his guitar is Tribal Seeds’ Gonzo at the beginning of the band’s set. Tribal Seeds delivered another killer live performance to close out the day. Gonzo is one of a few of the San Diego band’s members to release music outside of the group. One of Tribal Seeds’ founding members, Tony-Ray Jacobo AKA Maad T-Ray, is releasing an album titled Reach Out on August 14th. A pleasant surprise was seeing E.N Young, who took a break from the current tour he has going with his band Imperial Sound to come play the festival.
Tribal Seeds’ Summer Smoke Out tour could be summed up in this picture of bassist Victor Navarro. Headlining a festival while you are in the middle of a headlining tour is no simple task but Navarro makes it look easy. Tribal Seeds seem to always hit their stride in the summer, when their songs can be heard from the car stereos of countless Californians.
It was a day packed with reggae both old and new, east and west. From Stephen Marley’s rendition of “Stir It Up” to stirring performances from Collie Buddz and Tribal Seeds, the event could not have been more indicative of the current condition of reggae music. While some are in it for the selfies, all of us in attendance were fortunate enough to hear a unique blend of the summer’s smoothest genre in a setting that was beyond compare. Lets just hope that similar events start popping up in the future.
Expanders Sound System Website
The Movement Website
Collie Buddz Website
Stephen Marley Website
Tribal Seeds Website
Article & Photos By: Keenan Donath